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Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise
Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

Ranchers work hard in the summer often cutting several square mile fields of grass. The result is to gather hundreds of these 1200 pound Bales into piles. “Hay stacks” literally or more precisely, Stacked Round Bales. . I’ve seen some fairy prodigious heaps of grass before. Large Tractors with grapple buckets pile these three high. There is a LOT of hay in this “stack”. Several local ranchers (you know who you are) just raise grass, some just cattle and most raise both. There are not a lot of sheep herders up here in the high country that I’ve noticed. I know there are sheep operations around the area but most of the ones I know are down in the river valleys.

This was late in the year and the sun was far right of this almost perfect east/west trending Hay Stack. As the winter fades, the sun will slowly rise further and further to the left. Each day it moves a little more to the north as we orbit around the sun.

The green biodegradable netting around the hay is cut away before feeding the bale. We currently have our Herd of 34 corriente corralled and I’m feeding bales. Feeding a bale every 2-3 days, the Corriente Longhorns patiently wait for me to pull it off the bale. I always have to turn my back on them to do it so some day I may get got. 👀😵 Once I’m gone, all heck breaks loose and the pecking order slowly takes over. Everybody eventually gets their fill lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

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Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset
Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

So I’m up on a high ridge for twilight. The sun is down for 5 minutes and the clouds are lighting up with a still blue sky above. I was driving my Polaris Ranger Crew UTV that has 2 bright LED lightbars on the front. I sat down right up against the front bumper in the grass. I brought a 12 mm wide lens but I cropped the image down to the center since the edges were all dark. Only the center was bright enough to recover. I only expose the highlight properly and worry about the dark later. This actually came out much better than it could have.

Photographic Musings:

Close / Far perspectives under low light are rather tricky to capture. It’s takes a basic understanding of the requirement to use Manual mode on your camera to catch an image like this. High F-stop numbers, Long shutter speeds (tricky with moving grass), and perhaps a higher ISO to add a little camera sensitivity. Your priority here is depth of focus field. To get close grass AND the sky in focus at the same time requires you to use that requirement as your first priority. F-stop is the baby here. The other two settings are to get enough light to compensate for the high Fstop (very small hole in your lens to let light through). You have to realize that fstop is a double edge sword.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective Grassy Crimson Sunset

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Drifts Through the Discs

Drifts Through the Discs
Drifts Through the Discs

Drifts Through the Discs

I’m pretty sure that light can not get “flatter” than this but I could be wrong. What I love about this image is the huge number of grey’s there are resultant from that matte screen. This was pretty far away from the gravel / county road out to the ranch bone yard. The drifts between the plowed road and this old plow are numerous and sometimes high and wide. Short Drifts you can punch through, Wide drifts you go around or you get stuck lol

The Ranches “Bone Yard” is a small patch of ground populated with disused antique farm equipment, good scrap metals and old stuff generally. Some of it is serviceable, some of it is not. A little welding here/there, then a tractor and your discing with anything that will pull the thing. There are many spare parts out in the boneyard.

I spent a month one year cleaning it up of mostly wood and old tires which are now buried in a building materials only landfill. It’s taken full trailers of steel from long times past from that boneyard when steel scrap was worth something. I’d get 400 – 500 dollars a load or scrap steel back in the day. There are still a LOT of equipment there that no doubt traces it’s history back to the beginning of the ranch. 100 years of accumulation leaves some interesting stuff lol. I’m thinking that every ranch of any size and length of ownership has a similar “Bone Yard”.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Drifts Through the Discs

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Spring Bucks In Velvet

Spring Bucks In Velvet
Spring Bucks In Velvet

Spring Bucks In Velvet

I’m always on the look out for framing deer inside of antlers of the foreground animal. A little out of season perhaps.

With all the cold weather coming in this image came to mind that spring isn’t that far away. The sage brush that time of year is a wonderful cyan/green color, the deer have all new coats. Their rapidly growing antlers are covered with the capillary blood vessel rich “Velvet” covering the bone under supplying it with nutrients.

Sometime later in the year they antlers will stop growing. The velvet starts to itch and they will rub those antlers tearing the velvet to ribbons. They will rub on any bush or tree unlucky enough to be in their path. Deer rubs on trees are good signs of deer activity and you can usually tell how recent they were.

Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)

Terms you need to know: (F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens. F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Spring Bucks In Velvet

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Brace Framed Deer Twilight

Brace Framed Deer Twilight
Brace Framed Deer Twilight

Brace Framed Deer Twilight

A formally captured and framed fence brace . I don’t always partake, but a “Good Stiff Brace” at the end of the day is mostly a good thing……. (ie Crown Royal etc). This fence brace was a filter for the deer. The sunset was intoxicating all by itself.

This country is big. I drove about 15 miles out into the backcountry to have this mule deer stay put while I composed the capture. It’s always good when animals cooperate… The Orange Twilight was just a foretelling of the sunrise about 15 minutes away. This capture was dead center of civil twilight that morning. A rare power pole and line in this photo. I almost never take images with them in the scene …..

From a strictly rustic standpoint, there is a lot of engineering that went into that brace. All those force vectors resolving to shunt all the tension into the ground. They are elegant in their design. The cowboy/fence builder will always use what is handy to act as a lever on that diagonal wire. Diverse items as cow bones, pipes, sticks, boards and anything else laying around is used. What ever you use is going to be there a while lolol.

We have quite a bit of icy snow at the moment ….for mid January. I would expect a very long winter as it’s already been a very long winter and it’s still just starting. Live up in hight the Wyotana borderlands can be chilly at times lolol. Never a lack of things to take photos of though 📸

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Brace Framed Deer Twilight

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Lucky Big Sky Country

Lucky Big Sky Country
Lucky Big Sky Country

Lucky Big Sky Country

Here “Lucky” the Black Cat is checking out a well worn mud/rock flap off an f-250 pickup. He no doubt is considering the significance of the statement. I’m not sure what he was looking at. It just seemed like a proper time to compose, focus and click away.

We take very good care of our cats so don’t worry about the temps up here mid-winter. All of them have gone through -30 before in many previous Wyoming Winters. They are 6 years old and have a place to get out of the weather.

A fairly famous scientist, Carl Linnaeus named the domestic cat Felis catus within the scientific naming system. Carl Linnaeus (1707 –1778), AKA with his ennoblement title as Carl von Linné , was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, and physician who formalized binomial nomenclature, the modern system of naming organisms. The system we use today. He named all the easy stuff done first lololol.

All animals are scientifically named, (and thus grouped with other similar creatures) within his naming system. He’s a good google if your into scientific names to find out they SYSTEM. . It’s one of my weaknesses but I do know the language of paleontology . I take to scientific names like the proverbial peas to carrots…. As long as it’s a fossil 😜. This tendency in ingrained to all students of Paleontology, somewhere along the road during their education. Good to know if you ever want to pursue a career in Paleontology lol

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Lucky Big Sky Country

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AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet
AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

Aermotor windmills account for the bulk of windmills out there. The company started way back in the 1888 with 24 sold the first year. Over 20000 of the beasties sold in 1892. The company still exists. They also sold a LOT of steel fire “look out towers” for fire watch and being a lightning target lololol.

Reconstructing past lives and events grabs your minds eye coming upon and old homestea. The comings and goings of old homesteads spark my imagination. There was a homestead about 1/4 mile from this location. They had their own hand dug well 35 feet deep and 4 feet wide about 200 feet from their house down in a deep gully.. I filled it in when I moved here. It was an “attractive nuisance”.

Most settlers had to use the water at their windmill. I suspect an outhouse long since gone somewhere nearby downward of the prevailing wind. This land has had cattle or sheep on it for 100 years and slightly more. That’s 5 generations of cowboys that stayed the night or the summer in this treeless pasture. Being the only source of water for several miles around, the cowboys drank here too.

This is very big country open back country. Many square miles of grass are attached to any particular ranch. This is a steel windmill which is more expensive than building the wood towers was. Wells were positioned centered in the pasture. This made it accessible to the entire area. A lot depended on the ground water geology to make the shallow wells work long term. (luck mostly early on).

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: AERMOTOR Windmill Doublet

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Jeep with Big Plans

Jeep with Big Plans
Jeep with Big Plans

Jeep with Big Plans

Satire mixed with some truth:

I JUST traded into the Ford Dealer, this Jeep Grand Cherokee that served me for 15 years. It served me well. I’m confident it will serve the next owner as well. It would always do anything I asked it to plus basically going anywhere an ATV would. Amazing vehicles if you don’t have a bad neck because they will bounce you around.

I’m thinking that here the old guy was feeling his oats (or perhaps he was just parked in some). The years it has traveled these backcountry roads and two track trails have bonded us in many ways. I hate to see it go. My imagination unfettered attributes many human characteristics to the creatures and machinations that surround me. My old friend, this Jeep, has had his share of human imperfections.

Here he was no doubt thinking that he too, could move one ton hay bales around with this grapple bucket. For a Jeep this vehicle was always ambitious. Kind of like a little Jack Russell Terrier that doesn’t know he’s small . I’m thinking the old guy had too big a plan but what do I know. You don’t want to get bit by a Jack Russel Terrier lololol. That bucket probably weight more than the jeep does let alone putting a bale on the end of it.

The trade is final, I have no control over the vehicle now. Probably never had. It will end up where ever but only when it decides to pick a new owner 🤔

😜 Does the vehicle pick the owner or does the owner pick the vehicle?….. I’m leaning toward the former….📷

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Jeep with Big Plans

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Two Backcountry Bucks

Two Backcountry Bucks
Two Backcountry Bucks

Two Backcountry Bucks

I’ve seen these two Mule Deer bucks many times before here in Wyotana. Thick as thieves these two are. Just the two of them for now. A little boys club. They might be brothers. I don’t know because it’s pretty hard without tagging figuring out that first year of growth

Biologists say that these young Bucks necks swell up much larger than this capture close to rut. Hormones take over adding muscle. Taken earlier this fall, this image still has them smaller than I’d like to see (and the does too) 😜. Those neck will swell up to 50 percent larger of a circumference soonadding more muscle mass for use during the upcoming rut. (Late Nov/Early Dec) The Rut which is the annual fight to breed. They live in a world of scents and hormones floating in the air from the does in the group.

I have followed these two around for several years. These 4.5 year olds have known me since the beginning by seeing me out on the ranch land taking photos of their childhood and parents. Now they are starting to really accept me as a another grazing animal. I slowly over time carefully approach deer. They are aware of my vehicles and how I approach. The “trick” is that I drive like I’m grazing stopping and stopping. No hurry. Might take me 1/2 an hour to get up this close. I’ve actually worked inside of deer herd boundaries before. Make no mistake these are wild deer.

I didn’t get a chance to intermingle into the herds this year for what ever reason. Everything has to line up just so for a good day of grazing with the Mule Deer. I will see what they do to my new truck that is supposed to be here two weeks before this posts. Running late.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/ Montana

Title: Two Backcountry Bucks

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Angus Under Setting Sun

Angus Under Setting Sun
Angus Under Setting Sun

Angus Under Setting Sun

LOL, filed under things I see here on the ranch. As I drive around the ranch, most cattle this time of year are VERY tolerant of ranch vehicles. They learn to associate the running engine and the rig with feed or hay. When they get fed, it’s a noisy, smelly scary looking contraption unrolling a bale or two. There is a lot of grass in this field that is still accessible to them though. Keeping herds of cattle in the backcountry is hard work.

There are still bales to pick up this year. Cowboys are still in the process of being gathered even now in Early January where a tractor can reach them. Hay Tractors don’t care too much about snow until it gets several feet deep. We have to keep the cattle out of the pastures the bales are still in. Our small herd of 34 Corriente Longhorn is corralled right now with me feeding them a 1200 pound bale of hay every three days. This keeps them away from the hundreds of bales in their normal winter pasture. We’ll have this snafu fixed shortly. Tough to get it all the hay gathered before the snows.

This beautiful night was calm for the beasties on the plain. Both wild and domestic critters were enjoying the lack of wind that evening. Mid Winter up here in the Wyoming/Montana backcountry is harsh, long, not much sun. It’s COOOOLD when the wind blows. With no wind, I walk outside for quite a while in a t-shirt at zero. It’s so dry and if it’s still, you can’t feel the cold. I’ve heard it does get still up here occasionally. Just a rumor though…😜

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Angus Under Setting Sun

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Pillars of the Sunset

Pillars of the Sunset
Pillars of the Sunset

Pillars of the Sunset Over the Grass Sea:

Here Lies within the ends of the great grass sea,

There seems no end to it’s lore and legend,

Forever an observer of history,

It witnessed things that will happen no more.

The snow covering the grass will disguise

those leaving tracks from the past

but is unable to eulogize when asked.

You leave and become part of days bygone

but the conclusion is foregone,

that your passing through these pillars

ending up as all of our past

Back but buried under the grass. (Frank Bliss 2019)

This is the time of year I get romantic with the past and all those that have come before us. This is the end of a decade yet again. This last decade saw numerous wondrous family and friends pass into that great grass sea. Each and every one of us has an unbroken connection to the very beginning of time on this planet.

However you construe the beginning, we all have that common connection. All of our ancestors threads connect to a common rope of a few individuals. Since that humble beginning, every one of our parents survived to reproduce successfully, culminating with us. Those “hardy” folks survived wars, famine, disease/ drought and they didn’t even have a 7/11 to pick up coffee at. They never had to look for their keys or cellphone….

I see clearly previous lives in the old homestead sites spread all around us. Vague names, a little speck of memory from an elderly one but the rest is lost to all but the grass sea. All of us end up spread upon or buried under the ground which gave us life to begin with. It’s the circle of life and it’s a real thing. It’s the end of the journey that only that ground has a memory in conclusion.

Our immortality is only guaranteed by what we do for others, not by who we actually are. This is a season of giving. Please do for others so as to live on past the time we have been given in this miraculous place.

Happy New Years Evening, God Bless from all of us at:

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (My last post of this decade )

Title: Pillars of the Sunset

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Oh Crap a Camera Lens

Oh Crap a Camera Lens
Oh Crap a Camera Lens

Oh Crap a Camera Lens If you had a “Crappy Old Year, this image is important. It’s going to get better after 😉

I’ve raised many parrots (I owned a pet shop in the 80’s). Working very closely with dozens of big birds before. I’ve been pooped on by the best. Big Birds Shoulder birds can really mess up a shirt … This meadowlark is not much different than those big birds but for it’s size. With this I’ve pretty much have all different obvious Meadowlark activities. Eating, sleeping, pooping and singing lolol. Most birds will do this move if they must right before they fly…

I’ve learned that all birds lift their tail and squat just a bit right before…. Note: If you have a parrot or other arm tamed bird on your arm, if the tail lifts, push it down with the other hand. They don’t/can’t “go” with the tail down. . So my timing only looks lucky. While this might be a bad example lol … anticipating a shot can save a lot of machine gunning with the camera. Storing photos is expensive if you do say 50 thousand 100 meg images some months.

Computer Tech Musings: So how do I keep track of and store that many 100 plus meg files? (How does a serious photographer deal with safe backups).

Finished photos are one thing (not as many of them). There are only a few thousand of those at 220 meg each lolol.. It’s The raw files streaming out of the 7 or 8 cameras I routinely use are huge files. There are also many. I like to keep the timeline so I have all the raw files for the last several years on demand. Older than a few years I have to connect external drives to the system.

I currently manage 50 TB of storage devices. Most storage drives I keep off line. All turned off to prevent any intrusion or loss. . I keep a monthly backup off site in a pile of 8 (currently) 4 TB SSD hard drives I keep adding finished work to. As they fill up, I add a new one to the pile and always have a pristine backup of the raw files and the they are kept in a fire safe.

Every image I finish is saved in three separate external hard drives as a last step. I’ve maintained professional graphic stations for 30 years. I’ve still got most of my graphics files available to me. Even those created decades ago available to me fairly quickly. Most of my old images, belonged to clients back in the day. Lots of them around. Can’t use them. But I’ve got a few of my own to work with

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Oh Crap a Camera Lens

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Four Wise Deer

Four Wise Deer
Four Wise Deer

Four Wise Deer (with apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).

The four came walking from far away.

Four Wise Deer out of the west were they

They traveled by twilight and slept by day

For their guide was a beautiful wonderful star.

And so these 4 four deer walked to the east,

through the dusk of night and yucca to tell.

Many thought the deer to be insane

Walking so far across the plain.

They saw the light in the stable

And they knew they were near

To a place where Christ was born that year

They saw the Three Wise Men and a child on the straw

They came up for a drink but left in awe.

Frank Bliss 2019

This is the last post for Christmas Day of 2019. I’m sure the deer in this image were born a bit more recently than 2019 years ago at the birth of Christ. If truth be known, they were in fact walking away from that “Drink” at one of our stock tanks. I often see this small group right at sunset walking away from a water tank we keep open all winter. It’s been so snowy that I haven’t gotten into the backcountry for weeks now.

I’m thinking at this point that I’m not going to get my new ride by Christmas. Ford apparently can’t deliver trucks on the schedule they told me they could.😟 I won’t belay the point but they could have done this better.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.. !

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Four Wise Deer

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Chicken Butt Hearts

Chicken Butt Hearts
Chicken Butt Hearts

Chicken Butt Hearts from my backyard bird buddies…

Christmas is a season of love ❤️❤️ and these Buff Orphington Hens above each wear their hearts on their butt. (mid-summer when the grass was growing, lush and green. I had just let them out and they were starting to free range…

Now chicken life is not all about love at least with the males that more or less have their way with the hens. Rules of the roost and all that…. This seems to work for them as a species as they are still around. Probably more because they taste good with BBQ hot wing sauce. Their may be other reasons. 🤔

I understand anecdotally that chickens are as close to T-rex dinosaur as any bird is. Dinosaur love as it were😜. If you add a tail, some size and some teeth, you will have a t-rex of sorts lol. Chickens are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders. They will certainly eat meat given the opportunity. I’ve seen it many times.

I am a BAD paleontologist that believes that Birds Are Dinosaurs (BAD). 🤔 There is a group of paleontologist that are BAND (Birds are Not Dinosaurs) but that group is dwindling rapidly. There are just FAR too many similarities reinforced by recent finds in China along with other observations indicating a direct lineage from “Avian” Dinosaurs to modern Avian species. At least that is my opinion having done dinosaurs a bit. Anyone that has had to deal with a wild male turkey, can testify that Birds are Dinosaurs.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Chicken Butt Hearts

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Fawn in the Grass

Fawn in the Grass
Fawn in the Grass

Fawn in the Grass

The wonderful scene is one of my game trail camera amazing capture. This fawn was jumping from place to place in the high grass. The automatic camera captured it dead center of the frame. Game Trail Cameras us Infra-red motion detection to trigger the shutter and like any automatic camera, will snap what is in front of them. Depending on the lighting, Game Trail Cameras can even take a good photo now and then. This is an amazing shot from one of the cantankerous things.

As I’ve said a few times before, each and every one has problems but this one is a pretty good capture. It took virtually no work to fix the built in image issues of the Game Trail camera. I get captures like this because 1: I run a lot of cameras with 29 currently in the network. 2: I place them in unusual places with viewpoints that are not just on a post at animal neck level. I often put cameras very low looking up or in places like this where it’s obvious by the trails that game frequents the area. Setting a camera up too high would resultsin the capture getting the tip of it’s ears. Properly setting it low in the spring just about promised me it would catch a fawn.

One of the few things you have control of with Game Trail Cameras is where you put them. I could write a chapter on placing game trail cameras.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Fawn in the Grass

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Checking Your Flight Plan

Checking Your Flight Plan
Checking Your Flight Plan

Checking Your Flight Plan

While Sharp Tailed Grouse don’t migrate, it’s always a good idea to check your directions. 🤗

I have SOOOO many of these guys hanging around it’s actually kind of humorous. I’ve lived here for 20 years with this year having the largest population of of the “Sharpies” I’ve ever seen. I watched a flock of at least 100 of these behemoths. I consider them flying boats. They don’t look to me like they should be able to fly but I’ve seen them glide at least a half mile before. I will get the flock on camera this winter. Snippits so far is the rule….

Deep Deep Snow and Sharp Tail Grouse don’t go along too well. They tend to say out of the powder as they sink in and have short legs lolol. They usually have to fly out of the hole they make for themselves by landing in a controlled crash. In this image, there is about 8 inches of snow next to our backyard fence. We see them in our compound all winter as they mooch grain off our ducks and Buff Orphington Chickens.

These Birds are known as the “fire grouse or fire bird” by native Americans. This is because they are reliant on natural brush fires to keep their habitat open. Their common name around here is “SHarpies” or certainly Sharp Tail. Uniquely American birds that survived the extinction at the end of the Ice Age. Geologically it is the last species of the Genus Tympanuchus. (Linnaeus named them AGAIN, boy was he busy) Apparently there are 7 subspecies one of which is extinct, the other 6 are extant. (extant versus extinct…. good to google if you don’t know).

Being one of the larger grouse, they are hard to sex visually. The males have yellow eye combs that are not conspicuous. During the spring they males puff up a pale violet air sacs on their neck. UP to 18 inches long (plump birds) In the early fall, Females Ring-necked Pheasants easily are mistaken for a female Sharpie. Watch for the length of the tail which the pheasant wins with the longer tail.

They really don’t exist south of Wyoming/northern Nebraska ranging WAY north into Alaska through out central and northwestern Canada. I’m thinking they like the snow but I might be wrong[ They are year round residents of the Wyotana borderlands but I understand the continental divide is a boundary too them and they really don’t live west of there in the the US. Western most Montana doesn’t have them apparently.

Location; Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Checking Your Flight Plan

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Perspective: Deer Hair Sunset

Perspective: Deer Hair Sunset
Perspective: Deer Hair Sunset

Perspective: Deer Hair Sunset

(Bowing my head and holding my hat over my heart) Here lies the last mortal remains of a predated backcountry deer. Just some simple tufts of hair spread about. I actually looked around quite a bit and for some distance in that area. Found one partial lower leg (calf) with hoof. It was hundreds of yards away from these scatterings of deer hide. I said a few words about the circle of nature and moved on knowing that nature is cruel. It is the renewal, the rebirth that is beautiful.

Close far perspectives are becoming a regular part of what I consider “working” with just about ever scene I look at these days. A really wide angle lens (10-12mm) along with high f-stop numbers in manual mode are necessary to do this kind of work. Knowing exactly what is in focus is best so knowing the characteristics of your lens is a good thing. I buy wide angle lenses based on their ability to focus really close to the lens but having a higher f-stop than f2-2 is highly desirable.

Reminder: Photographic Musings (memorize this)

(F-stop) is your aperture size. The size of the “pupil” inside your lens. Big pupils (low fstop numbers) lets in a lot of light but your depth of focus is thin and shallow. (the eye is in focus but your ears are not). With a high F-stop number, you get a very deep field of focus/depth of field. The whole face and the trees behind the face are all in focus. This is because a high f-stop number makes a very small pin hole for a “pupil” in your lens. F-stop is one of three settings you adjust in Manual mode. It is a double edged sword, deeper focus field comes from having a small aperture “pupil” which means less light. Light is what your balancing here. The other two settings compensate for what your doing with f -stop in this case.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Perspective: Deer Hair Sunset

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Brace Yourself Sunset

Brace Yourself Sunset
Brace Yourself Sunset

Brace Yourself Sunset

As I travel the backcountry, I see opportunity in common objects. If I had uncommon things (huge mountains, monuments etc), I’d certainly photograph them. Regular Ranch objects are what I’ve got so I will work the common things looking for little areas of zen hidden among the other visual noise. My job is to catch isolated moments in time and space. There were an infinite number of places to observe this sunset, I chose to get down on my knees and look through this window. You’ve got to get to where the photos are after all lolol.

Tilt/Shift Lenses Musings:

Images as this, formally framed edge to edge, are precisely aligned. This was done in the camera. Holding the camera such and using a “tilt shift” lens to align the posts BACK to parallel.

This type of lens literally moves sideways/up and down on your camera incrementally. You can “Shift” the lens one way or the other moving the image across your cameras sensor. This allows the compensation of the normal curvature induced by a wide angle lens. Typically with just a regular wide angle the posts would be distorted pointing toward the middle, not parallel. Using the tilt/shift lens you can compensate for that distortion giving you perfectly straight lines. So the camera term for the day is “Tilt/Shift lens. They are expensive, rarely usable up here but I’m working more and more images into my work flow. Some adaptors that do the tilt/shit function are available for various applications. This type of lens is something you get into when your tired of wide angle shots when the trees all bend in toward the top center. Stay tuned for more applications of this optical technology.

Brace Yourself Sunset

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Corriente’ Calf’s Curious Eye

Corriente' Calf's Curious Eye
Corriente' Calf's Curious Eye

Corriente’ Calf’s Curious Eye

Hey Brown Eyes …. I always wonder what these guys are thinking. Humans are scary things to them but we provide food. Our vehicles show up and food magically appears to them. In the winter when the trucks feed the herd, the sound of the rig brings them trotting across the snowy prairie.

This is one of our calves born this year. It’s horns still pretty small, a month old baby. Adults will have pretty good sized horns for such a small beed of cattle. They definitely know how to use those horns. The breed routinely bully much larger Angus around with them.

The Spanish breed Corriente’ where first shipped to the America’s in 1493. The smaller breed was easier to transport, feed/ care for. They tough as heck athletes each and every one. Their meat contains about 1/2 the fat that our modern hybridized breeds. They require a lot less water adapting easily to sparse range. In other words, they pretty much take care of themselves. As a beef producer, your upfront costs are way lower. OF course these are sport cattle. Thusly we are not raising them for beef but as roping cows to train cowboys.

We’ve had Corriente’ for a decade. Their worst characteristic is that they go where they want. Doesn’t matter if there is a 4 wire barbed wire fence between them/where they want to go. They work their way through fences as if the barrier wasn’t there. Fortunately, they like it here. Hanging out by the water sources is the attraction. Water get’s scarce 3 miles out from our homestead. So they stick around mostly bulls excluded. Bulls go where their hormones tell them to. Since those bulls are small, no one want’s them to breed with a purebred Angus, you won’t get as much money lol.

Title: Corriente’ Calf’s Curious Eye

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Sunset Open Gate

Sunset Open Gate
Sunset Open Gate

Sunset Open Gate

The well known ranch rule is.: If the gate is open, leave it open. If the gate is closed, close it after you pass through.

I will leave gates open to allow easy passing of game through the fences. They don’t have to crawl under the wire or jump over it. This particular area is a busy summer area for game, not so much in the as winter water is more than a mile away. It has to be moving water of course to not be frozen in this environment. Dryland areas like this evacuate of all ungulates during the colder months of the year.

I usually put game trail cameras on open gates but I had just removed several from this spot due to the oncoming winter. Not only will it be difficult to tend to those cameras, they would capture almost nothing that time of year. I tend to keep them around those water sources that are kept open. We trickle a jet of high pressure water into 4, sometimes 5 stock tanks all winter. It keeps them open nicely and should provide some nice ice sculpture images this year. Wildlife hangs near the water for good reason. Trapped near an island water source surrounded by dry land with LOTS of food. It’s not a bad way to spend your winter if your an ungulate. The one thing we usually have enough of is deer fodder/food.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sunset Open Gate

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Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets
Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

Filed under things I see traveling parallel ridges. Driving in the backcountry and finding views like this is a reward in and of itself. I see things that are hard to capture that I’ve never been able to get just photorealistic as I saw it. This one was hard. High contrasts are such that the differences in dynamic range become difficult to record.

This backcountry is beautiful under MOST conditions. This night was quite special though. There are so many places to explore, it’s literally endless with so many nooks and crannies that you would need horses and nothing but decades to explore. I’ve lived here 20 years looking for new and old things just about daily. I find human artifacts as well as Cretaceous age fossils in this country.

Living in Dinosaur fossil bone country is also a place you can by accident find treasures in the grass. I have literally run across dinosaur backbones (centrum) laying in the grass as a “rock”. This grass is all covering Mounts of Hell Creek/Lance Rock Formations (Cretaceous). Fossils are not every where or everybody would have lots of fossils. There might be an acre total of fossiliferous ground in 5 or 6 square miles. Dinosaur fossils are in the Hell Creek Lance but are still very uncommon finds. The ranch collection currently has around 10K specimens in it recovered from the private deeded ground up here.

Dlsclaimer. You can only collect vertebrate fossils on private deeded ground. BLM, state, tribal lands are all forbidden locations to collect or even possess vertebrate fossil material. I’m not an attorney so look on the Bureau of Land Management website for specifics.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Backlighting and Backcountry Sunsets

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Perspective: Brace for the Morning

Perspective: Brace for the Morning
Perspective: Brace for the Morning

Perspective: Brace for the Morning

Perspectives such as this, require a very close/far focus. That is not an easy task in fairly dark environments such as this. This very small sun slit along with a virtually veiled sunrise took place. Just before the horizon dropped exposing the sun. It’s civil Twilight still, the sun has not risen yet.. (Astronomic, Nautical and Civil are the three twilights) I consider this a tough photographic environment certainly.

I do like working perspectives in low light. It’s working several problems at once in the cameras Manual mode. Such activities are an exercise in balance of the three major camera settings you have ANY control of. (white balance excluded).

Twilight is by far the best time of the day. Not many are up seeing what is going on most mornings. I’ve seen some aurora, I’ve seen so many sky shows . Just about every possible situation short of some ultra rare phenomena. I will testify that twilight is the most varied color, capable of the full rainbow of possibilities. Only the bright greens of aurora have I not seen from twilight. Oxygen excited by the sun at 60 -120 miles high is that green. None in basic twilight that I have ever seen. The variety of scenes, the play of low angle light, leads one to take the work if you can get it lolol.

This was not a cooperative sky as that sun slit closed up thusly closing down the sky show that morning. Sometimes I drive for backcountry miles only to get a few minutes of good light. Such are the dues you pay if you play the game of photon collecting.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Perspective: Brace for the Morning

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Sunrise Through the Knothole

Sunrise Through the Knothole
Sunrise Through the Knothole

Sunrise Through the Knothole. IT was a crisp cold morning, I was out collecting chips from Game Trail Cameras. I was also working the sunrise as opportunities presented themselves. i went for a walk along the shore or this small lake. The sun was just emerging as the horizon dropped away exposing the nuclear furnace. (Remember, the sun doesn’t move, the earth’s horizon drops away exposing the sun.).

Driftwood can be knot holed and this piece was big enough to stick my camera accompanied with a a wide lens attached. I’m honestly not sure which side of the border this is on as it’s pretty much on the border lol. I didn’t have my GPS with me. I usually reserve that device for fossil hunts where landownership and exact location is a bit.

Photographic Musings:

Thinking like a mouse looking through a window, I take images of natural portholes/windows as I see them. It’s the close/far focus thing that is hard to do photographically. On manual mode, if deep focus is your Priority with your image, think immediately of turning UP your F-stop number. High f-stop numbers set your aperture (the pupil size of your camera) very pinpoint. As small a hole in the lens as possible. This give you the deepest focus (thickness of the zone of focus). Low f-stop numbers give you shallow focus. Maybe a nose is in focus but not your ears. It lets in LOTS of light going big pupil (low f-stop) but you have fuzzy backgrounds. If full image (close/far) focus is what your after, then high f-stop numbers are your playground.

Once you learn F-stop is a double edge sword either taking or giving light, it also effects focal depth. The other two settings are adjusted after f-stop to compensate and balance your light equation. If you learn nothing else from this, learn f-stop means focus depth.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Sunrise Through the Knothole

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Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting

Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting
Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting

Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting

Cowbirds use an interesting approach to egg laying. No time is watered to build a nest. They expend all their energy laying eggs. But only in the nests of others. The bigger chick usually wins the battle against smaller fledgelings from the parents actual offspring. They are all raised by adopted parents often at the expense of their own breed. The most common “Brood Parasite”

The network of 29 (currently) Game Trail Cameras that I run occasionally come up with some pretty candid captures. I don’t recommend any brand of Game Trail Camera as all of them have their share of unique problems.

This capture was from mid summer 2019. We just at a Blizzard (a week ago as I post this) There are Game Trail Cameras that I won’t be able to get to before spring already. I had pretty good batteries and typically they can go 6 months unless something is overstimulating the shutter. Moving branches or grass can set your Game Trail Camera off eliminating your battery or SD card’s capacity. Which ever comes first will be the end of that camera.

I do have to remember where I have put cameras. This is a very big place and I’m sure there are a few out there than I don’t remember but I eventually will run into them. This is a very big place at 5.5 square miles. But it’s a small ranch compared to others around hre. It’s a matter of scale which is very hard to convey. Folks that have visited here fully understand.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Cowbird Flock Clandestine Meeting

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Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock
Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

A tad out of season is this Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock

I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking back 6 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am. The limitations of the technology are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.

Bumblers are sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠

The detail deep in the flower is amazing.. The first hard freeze took care of all that opportunity 😖 Now there is about a foot of snow on the ground.

I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-november kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year. This posts Dec 8th….

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: “Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock”

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Moo Moo Sunset

Moo Moo Sunset
Moo Moo Moon

Moo Moo Sunset

As I drive around our ranch. I check water tanks and fix fences that don’t need to be down. It’s good to keep cattle out of the hay bales for instance. I also keep a good pile of cameras with me. Each is a specialty tool with a lens on it that does a particular task. Short lenses, long lenses and many in between. Usually when an alignment of planets occurs, a long lens at a good distance is a nice application.

Photographic Musings: Buying a camera??

This cow filter worked very well to reduce the over all light reaching my camera. Not quite 1/2 of the suns disk was blocked and thus this image was possible. I really don’t like glass filters in front of my lens when pointing at the sun. (I use mirrorless cameras only please so I don’t blind myself). Calling this scene bright would be an understatement. You certainly couldn’t look at it bare eyed. The mirrorless removable lens camera displays the image on a video screen in the eyepiece or the LCD on the back of the camera. All live real time. Your settings change the image live. You know what your going to get (more or less) what you see in the eyepiece. Working a good camera on Manual takes on a whole different style.

Disclaimer: Don’t try this with your DSLR camera as the direct path of light to your eye will probably blind you. Also, some mirrorless cameras are not rated for this kind of telephoto sun shot. Don’t assume a smaller sensor camera (I use full frame Sony Alpha 7’s) will take this without burning a hole in the sensor.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Moo Moo Sunset

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First Morning Drink on Tap

First Morning Drink on Tap
First Morning Drink on Tap

First Morning Drink on Tap

The very first of the mornings light skimmed off the high hill tops and ridges. I like to be just on the far side of a ridge for the sky show. Here I caught a calf Black Angus enter the rear door of the cafeteria’s milk spigot. Between the green grass (rocket fuel) and all that raw milk makes them live wires. You never know which way they are going to jump in the spring.

I get a lot of comments regarding the conical pyramidal shaped hill. I often do satire narratives where they turn magicially into volcanos or the rare “American” pyramid. I’m sorry that the truth is way less interesting. Sadly they are just piles of different layers of sandstones and mudstones. Deposted during the late Cretaceous, these layers are world famous.. This is when the dinosaurs were crawling around these sands I’m standing on. Blanketed in the Hell Creek/Lance formation, we never know what we are going to find. . Known from the end of the dinosaur era. They are indeed occasionally fossilferous. I’ve found good sized bones in the grass before (rare but several times). There are indeed dinosaur fossils up here. We earned Bliss Dinosaur Ranch as a name. p

But this is a land of many uses. We raise a lot of grass and cattle up here. I raise some dinosaurs now and then of course. We’ve had a nationally released video of 4 wheel drive activity we’ve done up here. (2008 Petersons 4 wheel drive and offroad’s Ultimate Adventure Video was partially filmed here). We have had a major rifle shoot here every year for 18 years now. Oil has been extracted back in the 1960’s so the place was mineral rich. Open spaces are still open. You would be hard pressed to find much evidence of the 1960’s oil production. There are several pipelines for oil, gas and CO2 crossing nearby. This place makes many things happen.

Title: First Morning Drink on Tap

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Bad Horn Day

Bad Horn Day
Bad Horn Day

Bad Horn Day for sure. So how do you have to sleep to get that “Cow LIck” or is that Pronghorn? Might be chilly out for this shot… (-2F). I love it when I get a Pronghorns breath. Frosty!

Shed Horn Sheath.

That appears to be a pretty sharp point on his right horn. I doubt it grew that way. I suppose he might have broken it off or is shedding the sheath (most likely). He actually might do some damage with that horn if he ever get’s big enough physically to be a “contender” in the rut. You know it’s all fun and games until someone puts out an eye. Designed to lock up in a fight, horns shape is sort of standardized. . Having said all that, this is a late migrator working his way down to the Thunder Basin National Grasslands. The Pronghorn “herd up” about 30 miles south of my place for the winter. Those grasslands are part of the American Serengeti. down there. They have been over the rut for weeks now.

I have never found a full sized shed Pronghorn sheath. I have only found one SMALL example. I’d like to think I have a pretty sharp eye for things left on the ground having been a dinosaur/fossil hunter all my life. Patterns and shapes stand out in my mind like a starburst against the black sky. They disintegrate pretty fast I suspect.

I’m always looking down with my eye’s to the ground and I walk in the backcountry a LOT. Most folks don’t know the males do in fact shed their horns. This Pronghorn buck still has one to go. The Horns will grow back pretty quickly in the spring.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Bad Horn Day

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Corriente’ Longhorn Family Portrait

Corriente' Longhorn Family Portrait
Corriente' Longhorn Family Portrait

Corriente’ Longhorn Family Portrait (Sport Cattle….sort of like sport cars)😜

This is a mother and her last two children. Mom who is 6 is center, son at 6 months is left, daugher at a 1.6 years just right. The two gals are still on ranch with the little steer going off to be roped.

Roping Cattle is a big local “sport” activity in this region. These young Corriente’ (spanish breed) are really good for practice on a cowboy/girl skill from horseback. These cattle are fast and have shorter horns. They are ALL athletes versus an Angus bred for bulk. Many ranches have some if they are active cattle operations with real cowboys. The “Sport ” of roping is part of most rodeos and is an actual skill used in cattle ranching. Practice makes perfect.

The Corriente” Breed was brought into the America’s as early as 1493. These are a breed of Criollo cattle all descended from that old lineage. They are all to an animal tough, fast, self sufficient, and will paw at the snow and find grass in the winter. These are relatively tiny cattle compared to the modern beef cow. They almost went extinct with the introduction of bigger breeds. American Ropers and Doggers Know all about them. You know who you are 👀

Big Bulls are 1000 pounds, big cows weigh in at 800 pounds. Yearlings are around 400 pounds in both sexes. Qualities: Corriente” are Great Sports Cattle, These guys are supposedly easy to tame. They are lean beef and good eating. Small Herds are easy to keep. Hardy as heck, they actually require less food and water than other beef brands. Good cows to have a small herd of. They don’t take much diesel fuel to keep alive.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title Corriente’ Longhorn Family Portrait

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Grackle in the Sun

Grackle in the Sun
Grackle in the Sun

Grackle in the Sun

A vastly under appreciated species, the Common Grackle, isn’t that common up here. THey appear black from a distance but an up close image will show a glossy purple heads over a bronze iridescent body. What an amazing plumage.

We are on the western edge of their distribution and they are migratory here and elsewhere. This means they are protected as are all migrating birds except for game birds in season by federal law. Don’t shoot black birds boys :(. Actually there are some of this genus (3 species) that are not that common.

They certainly are iridescent however. Here taken in direct bright morning sun. It was down in the grass “borrowing” some of my chickens/ducks feed here in the barnyard. Nothing like being on the wing and finding a free meal out in the middle of nowhere. I get a lot of freeloaders here in my barnyard. I think I’m feeding most of a flock of Sharp Tailed Grouse this winter by their proximity in the trees to my feeding area lolol.

This male Grackle would dominate a seed bird feeder (which I don’t do besides my barn fowls as I have barn/ranch cats). I don’t see them in large flocks but once or twice a year. Usually it’s individuals like this fellow. They are raucous in their chattering. Bullies and thieves mostly but I suspect they play a big part in our food web. There are a lot of blackbirds therefore they have an impact in the scheme of things or so it would seem. 🤔📷.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Grackle in the Sun